Thank god for hip-hop. Like rock ‘n’ roll, it gets ugly people laid. Seriously, would Trick Daddy or Jay-Z get any fine pussy at all if they were accountants? No way. Same with Brother Ali, who by his own admission in “Forest Whitiker,” from his astounding second album Shadows on the Sun, is hairy, overweight, lazy-eyed, and has a misshapen head. He is also an albino. (Emo kids, think you got it bad?) Yet, as he claims in “Star Quality”: “I walk in First Ave./Have so much ladies gaspin’ for breath/Tryin’ to catch me with the ass and the chest.” I believe him. Because this guy’s rhymes are so convincing he could sweet-talk any girl into the sack—not that he’d want to, being a devout Muslim husband and father and all.
When Ali raps about getting beat up by bullies as a kid (“Win Some Lose Some”), confronting an abusive boyfriend (“Dorian”), or dealing with wack promoters (“Back Stage Pacin’ “), I can’t do anything but sit and stare at my stereo, engrossed by the raw emotion and tricky wordplay. Rhyming over tracks provided by producer Ant (of Atmosphere) and the contents of his sonic toy-box (flute, church organ, soul/funk samples, eye-snapping snare, wicked basslines), Ali sounds angry and wounded, yet hopeful—just the type of guy us girls love to think we can rescue. This man is a hypnotist, and ladies, you are getting very sleepy . . .